Marxism for Newbies: Dialectical Materialism

“Dialectical Materialism” is the term often used to describe the Marxist worldview — how things work in the universe, according to Marx. The fancy name, and large German words often lead people to assume there is a strange mysticism or magical element to the philosophy, when in reality that could not be further from the truth. There are a few big names who have made contributions to Dialectical Materialism, but it overwhelmingly comes from Karl Marx.

“Gaze into my dialectics, and tell me, what do you see?”
The “equation” (not a literal math equation — figuratively) of the line is the dialectic. If you understand the “equation,” then you understand how the idea changed and why it changed. This graph will be better understood by those with some background in mathematics, so don’t fret if you don’t follow.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
On the left is the physical, tangible world, on the right the intangible world where ideas ‘exist.’
Not literally projecting a physical house, just projecting the idea for now.
Now actually projecting the idea onto the world, not with some sort of magical projection, but with labour and material interaction upon the world.
The object that once only existed as an intangible idea is now a physical, tangible object existing in the world.
So where did the idea for the house come from in the first place? It’s an oversimplification if we just say ‘it’s from God,’ because it’s more like — what is the ultimate origin of ideas? That’s where God pretty much has to come in.
A Hegelian is looking at this image somewhere and writing a 21 paragraph response as to why it is misleading.
Do note, that ideas do not exclusively come from God, (but the ‘super-important’ ones essentially do) for Hegel.

Materialism — it is the material world that begets the immaterial world

Idealism — it is the immaterial world that begets the material world

So back to the idealists, like Hegel, the idea of things comes into existence first, and the material world then emerges and develops out of those intangible ideas. As mentioned, God, as understood by Hegel, is not a physical thing in the world that takes up space or has mass or lives in an area that you can travel to by spacecraft, God is an intangible idea, and the one that exists prior to all the others. It’s God that creates the world first as an idea, and then transforms it into material — a physical form that physically does occupy space and has physical, observable properties. Idealists argue that without the ideal world, the material world would not exist, and that the real, fundamental world, is the world of ideas, and if you were looking for God you would find him there — not here in the imperfect material world.

If you are interested in the anti-Thanos (a philosophical proxy for Malthus) perspective from Marxists, you will want to read these essays from Engels, Lenin, and Lenin again.
Karl Marx, as envisioned by MSPaint
Once again, the Hegelian formulation
Marx rejects idealism. The origin of ideas is not from an abstract, spiritual realm. Your ideas do come from somewhere, says Marx, but it is not from God.
Returning to our ‘house’ example — for Marx, the ‘world’ of ideas does not exist on its own, only as conceptions in your mind, and only as conceptions of things you have observed in the world.
And your ideas don’t go from “observing trees” to “idea of a house.” They would, in this example, according to Marx and the materialists, begin with ‘an idea’ of those trees that you observed.
The observer witnesses, as one possible example of how they might eventually arrive at the idea of a house, a lightning bolt (this is arbitrary, there’s nothing special about lightning here) strike a tree, knocking it over.
The change in the material world (the knocked over tree) has now produced a change in the ideas.
Perhaps, then, during the rain storm, our observer looks and sees that the area under the fallen tree is dry, while the other surrounding area is still wet. He has begun a primitive formulation of the idea of shelter.
Our observer now uses the ideas that came from the world, to then go out and physically act upon the material world, changing it even more, and producing even more new ideas about the world!
Eventually, through making changes to the physical world (in this case chopping down trees and then using those to construct the house, as an expansion and development of the idea of shelter than came earlier), you might arrive at the very same house that Hegel posited must have come from God. Marx says, no, that house, and all of your other ideas, came from the world. (The house should probably be, like, more of a log cabin, but I can’t draw that well enough, so dont @ me!)
Hey... Hey Trinity… Do you wanna try some dialectics?

Marxist-Leninist, Rouge Philosopher. Dialectical Materialist. Communism’s top salesperson.

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